Saturday, September 19, 2020

RBG

2020.  Sigh.


An amazing woman.

An amazing life.

An amazing legacy.

Among her many fights for justice, equality, anti-discrimination, women's rights, voting rights, environmental issues etc, were it not for her vote (and four others) five years ago, we wouldn't be able to be married right now.

Thank you Justice Ginsburg.

Voting has consequences that can last long beyond four years.  The effects can last for a generation or more.



VOTE.

NOVEMBER 3RD.

BY MAIL, EARLY OR IN PERSON.



Friday, September 18, 2020

FRIDAY WORD DEBATE

 On Friday in the past we have done a "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some burning questions of the culinary world, ha. We have expanded it now to other fun and different regional uses of words.


This week, the burning question is:


Besides the fact that they are so good, we love a great stack of PANCAKES.  That's what we call them down here in the South.  In the West apparently the more common term is FLAPJACKS.  In the North and other pockets of the country, they can be called HOTCAKES.

I'm not sure, even though I grew up in various parts of the country, that I've not ever used anything but pancakes.  We do have a friend though that says flapjacks and she grew up in California.  Not sure we've ever known anyone who uses the term hotcakes.  According to some research I did there are other terms that have fallen out of favor over the years:

Flippers, slapjacks, flopjacks, flappers, slapjacks, flapcakes etc.  Fascinating!

So, what do you call them?
Pancakes?  Flapjacks?  Hotcakes?


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

COUSCOUS AND VEGETABLES QUICK AND EASY QUARANTINE EATING

Here is a super quick and delicious meal.  It's light and meatless (with vegetable broth it could be considered vegetarian).

Also a recipe request at the end of this post:


It's just thawed frozen veggies and medium couscous.  For those who've never cooked with couscous, do it, it's so easy.  We use a ratio of 1 3/4 cups liquid (in this case chicken broth) to 1 1/2 cups couscous.  Bring liquid and about a tablespoon of butter to a rolling boil.  You could add any seasonings at this point.  

Once it is boiling, take it off the heat, quickly add the couscous and veggies and cover for 5 minutes.  When you remove the cover, fluff with a fork and let sit for a few more minutes so the veggies are good and heated up. 


Dish it up and serve.  So easy and makes a great main dish or side dish.  It's flexible in that you can use different vegetable combos...you could use canned instead of frozen...you could even add meatballs or shredded chicken.  It's even pretty to look at in the bowl (and as they say, we eat with our eyes first!)  Enjoy!

PS:  Putting out the call for a recipe!

Does anyone have a good tried and true recipe for a good old fashioned squash casserole?  It's kind of a Southern thing I guess but they sure are good.  We have some excess squash and would like to try one out.  I realize we can go to Google and search for one but we want one someone has made that they would make again.  Feel free to link to it in the comments, post the recipe in the comments or use the email me button on the side and send it that way.

Thanks!!



Monday, September 14, 2020

2020 JUST KEEPS ON GOING DOWNHILL

I've been meaning to update our plans for the farm but just kept thinking let's wait and see how things go.
But 2020...


... a dumpster fire for everyone.
Things are not immune here either.


First, a very dear coworker had a tragedy.  Her husband died unexpectedly while out of town on business.  Only 45.  It kind of took the wind out of our sails because we are a close knit group at the office, we're like family and what hurts one hurts all.

Just heartbreaking.



Then, as some of you know, 2nd Man was laid off.  It's been a while now.  More than six months.  With the pandemic it's just SO hard to find a job because there are so many looking and with his background, companies if they are even hiring, are just being very specific, more so than in any year past.  I am employed and my job is secure.  The unemployment though has run its course and so now we use savings for needed expenses.  Thankfully, we have it but of course that was intended for doing things at the farm and this year was the original plan for that to start.



Well needless to say, that didn't happen.  We are in conserve/saving mode.  We had narrowed it down to a complete remodel and our backup was a prefab cabin type building (and that could still happen).

Have you ever watched one of those HGTV type shows where they gut down to the studs and then redo it?  That's what we have plans for that were drawn up.  Removing the dining room/mudroom addition and adding on a larger eat in kitchen and then remodeling the other rooms.  We owe so little on the house and land, it just made sense to get a home improvement loan and completely remodel.  We have a couple of contractors that came well recommended and will just need to visit with them when we get ready.  We hope that will happen next year but at this point it's the furthest thought for us.

We have a backup plan of a modular cabin type home but that would involve demolition of what we have now and then figuring out how to get the new cabin onto the property.  That adds a lot to the expense.

In the short term, we may get a couple of new window units that do both cooling and heating just to be able to keep it comfortable to go visit and have a place to get away until we get to the remodeling phase.  That would at least make it nice this Winter and next Spring Summer but then again, spending money right this moment on that seems like less of a plan until we have a better outlook for the job future.  We don't have to go out there this Winter so maybe next Spring we can get some cooling units for the hotter months.  We're still staying in the apartment, it will be easier to find a job here and if either of us needs to work from home, it's easier at the apartment.

And lastly, the latest "2020 Sucks" news...



...we just found out about this a couple of weeks ago but I couldn't post until everyone in their family knew; 2nd Family is getting divorced.

Sigh.

We've known them for 20 years, well, that's for both of us, I've known them for almost 30 years.  She is moving away, out of town, as is their daughter.  We weren't sure what was going to happen with their property.  We share the first part of their driveway and also share the well.  He is going to stay there, at least for now we believe.  He loves it out there but again, who knows what the future will hold for that.  

That means a new well and a driveway cleared from the road will need to be on our shortlist once we can afford to do that.  Again, not until some time next year, it just depends on how things go with him staying there by himself.  If things seem stable for him (and for us) we'll work on the house first and then the other things.


I took this picture the other day and put this quote on there to remind us of why we have done this.  Having a small place in the country to soothe our souls has been our dream for years and we're not about to let some crappy year ruin it for us.  We'll get there eventually, a few bumps in the road along the way, but we'll get there.  Until then, we have a wonderful property to go to and plant and plan and figure out fun things to do.

As dark as it seems now, the future is brighter!

Come on 2021, PLEASE be better than 2020.

Friday, September 11, 2020

FRIDAY WORD DEBATE

On Friday in the past we have done a "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some burning questions of the culinary world, ha. We have expanded it now to other fun and different regional uses of words.

This week, the burning question is:



You know when you decide to do some Spring cleaning (or Fall, Winter, Summer) and then figure 'why not make some money'?  So you lug it all outside early on a Saturday morning, stick some signs around the neighborhood and wait for the crowds to come spend money on your stuff!

What do you call that?  Here everyone says it's a "garage sale".  "Yard sale" is used as well, but we can honestly say "tag sale" is pretty rare here.  We've also never heard anyone use "rummage sale".

Now we know there are also "estate sales" but those are a specific event.  This is just more of the put it in your yard or driveway and sell it kind of thing.

Anything else they are called?  Regional differences?

So what do you call them?  Garage sale, rummage sale, tag sale, yard sale?



Thursday, September 10, 2020

INTERESTING VASE TRASH TO TREASURE

Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock where people can put the things they don't want.  I've found several cool items over the last couple of years.

Here is one of the latest!*

*carried back up with gloves and washed thoroughly...


This is a really nice and usually shaped vase.  There is no scale for size but it's about 2 feet tall.


As you can see in this closeup, it's a rich, deep blue, almost a blue green.  It also has a crackle glaze finish that we love as it gives it an antique or vintage look.  The opening is small, not sure what kind of flowers or decor would be nice.  I was thinking that next Spring, when the Huisache trees are in bloom...


...a few branches with these yellow flowers on them would be nice trailing over the edge of the vase.

Of course it's also pretty enough to just stand on its own on a living room end table or maybe the side table in the dining room.


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

SPIDER PALOOZA

If spiders freak you out, you might want to scroll to the bottom of this post for a Hobart picture, ha.

These are spiders we have here in our yards.  They look scary (I wouldn't want to have one on me, ha) but they are not aggressive and are non-venomous.  They also eat bugs, wasps, mosquitoes.  They are friendly allies to have in the garden.

And we have apparently had a population explosion of them at the farm...


There is this one in the blueberry bushes on the porch...


This one in the Texas lilac vitex bush...


This one on a bag of potting soil...


This one on a bush...


This one on a landscape timber...


And this one making a home in a flowering vine...

Again, they are friendly, if not intimidating.

Now as a palette cleanser...


...here is a picture of Hobart, sleeping on the work laptop a couple of weeks ago, doing his best to keep me from working.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

RANDOM PHOTOS AND THOUGHTS

I thought that on this Sunday I'd just post some random photos that I've taken and been meaning to post but keep forgetting to do that...


Remember a few weeks back we did the "water fountain vs drinking fountain vs bubbler" question?  Some of you mentioned in these times they probably aren't even being used.  I saw this at the grocery store and thought 'YEP! No use for them now!" (and they called them water fountains, ha).


Saw these flowers in landscaping done by the city.  I was stopped at a light so I took a quick picture.  I always liked to see when something is professionally landscaped because it gives me ideas on things to do.  These are done in the layering effect with tallest toward the back.  Of course since these are done by the city landscapers, they have to be good selections to deal with our climate.  

We see Mexican heather at the front, then pentas maybe?  Are those zinnias near the back?  Can anyone ID it all?


We've had sporadic heavy rain on and off all weekend. It's OK we need the rain for sure. Things are very dry in this neck of the woods. I didn't have to mow so that was good, in this heat, it's fine.


I'm back in the office, the boss wanted us back in.  We don't allow customers in without appointment and then they must wear masks, social distance etc.  Now we are a small office but still I don't want everyone right up in my space so I put this sign up to keep coworkers from just coming around to stand next to or behind me.


Saw this image and loved it.  The numbers are coming down in the Houston area which is good, but we worry about this holiday weekend because people become complacent or go "hey, it's all better now" and we could have a spike.  We had one after Memorial Day that shut us back down, then another, albeit smaller one, after 4th of July.  People need to stay vigilant.  This isn't over.  Just wear your mask, no one likes it, no one likes the isolation but lets do this to be safe for everyone and then we can get back to some sense of normalcy at some point.


And last but certainly not least, this was a project I first heard about over on Marcia's blog a couple of months back.  It's a group that is reminding registered voters to get out and vote this year.  They wanted hand written notes on preprinted postcards because they are more personalized.  It was a crowd sourcing effort so you could request 25 to fill out or 100.  I signed up for 100.  Several times!  It was fun, I just wrote them out while sitting and watching TV.  They provided the postage paid return envelope and so once complete, I just sent them all back and they will be mailed out to all the addresses just prior to early voting for that state.  It's nice to a do a small part to help out in the election this year.

That's been about it for this weekend.

Friday, September 4, 2020

SPRINKLES OR JIMMIES FRIDAY DEBATE

On Fridays, we like to do a "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world, ha.  We have expanded it at times to more fun regional uses of other words...

This week, the burning question is:



This one is fun because I can honestly say we had never heard of the term we don't use.  We have grown up always calling these colorful decorations for cupcakes and cookies 'sprinkles'.  Then when I was reading some articles on food items, I saw the term 'jimmies' used.  When 2nd Man has had me buy a bottle at the store it's always "hey, can you pick up a jar of sprinkles so I can make cupcakes?"  Have never said jimmies, ha.  Apparently it's another regional term as well, mainly being confined to the North and East.  

So, what do you call them?
Sprinkles?  Jimmies?  Something else?


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

RETAIL CANNING SUPPLIES RUNNING LOW

Was at the grocery store near the farm (like going there because they are never really busy and they are good at enforcing the mask rule).  Anyway, it's a great way to top off things like milk, eggs, canned goods, cheese, etc. 


 While I was there I noticed this; the section with canning supplies.  It was pretty much gone.  We were thinking that it's a sign of what is going on in the world in general, especially being in the country.  People with gardens are filling their pantries.  

But then again, it turns out it's not just limited to the  rural areas around Houston...


...this is at a store here in Houston, near downtown of all places.  Almost all the jars are gone.  Pint and quart, widemouth and regular, all gone.  There was even a bottom shelf of bigger packages of jars that was empty too (I thought I got it in the photo).

SO I guess it helps to be prepared.  I didn't think about canning supplies when I was stocking up.  Of course we DO have quite a few jars at the farm but probably need some more rings and lids.  Still, a well stocked pantry should include canning supplies. 


I might just add a few more things to our supplies for canning.  We might not have our garden growing right now but stopping at the farmers market or even the grocery store for some fresh produce can give us what we need to can some more food to supplement what we already have in the pantry and fridge.

Anyone else notice a canning supply shortage in stores lately?